Wed 3 Dec 2008
Left in the roasting pan after the turkey was done on Thanksgiving was a dark, glossy sludge of turkey juice, a La Brea Tar Pit of gravy. No need to let that wonderful, elemental gunk go to waste, so LL made a risotto using this turkey slag, slightly diluted with chicken broth because it was so thick, as the base. That and shallots and thyme. It was, in a word, divine. It was, in nine words, one of the best risottos I have ever eaten. My heart quails before menus that use the term “creamy risotto.” A properly made risotto needs neither cream nor butter, the rice having absorbed all that olive oil and wine and broth making it rich enough. Why can chefs not just leave things the hell alone?
Anyway, for wine I opened a bottle of the Renaissance Vineyard & Winery Granite Crown “Vin de Terroir” 2002, Sierra Foothills, North Yuba. Yes, 2002 is the current release of this wine, a blend of 50 percent each syrah and cabernet sauvignon. The wine ages about 27 months in neutral German oak ovals, that is, large barrels that have been used so many times that they impart structure and spice to the wine but not the woodiness or toastiness of new oak. After that process, the wine rests in bottle for three and a half years before release. The result is an absolutely lovely wine, ripe, warm and fleshy, imbued with scents and flavors of spiced, macerated and stewed red and black currants and plums. There’s an extraordinary mineral edge — no wonder the wine is called “Granite Crown” — with touches of dust, lead pencil, orange rind, leather, mulberry and dark bitter chocolate. The tannins comes up after a few minutes, lending earthiness, a note of dried porcini, and ultimate austerity. The balance is delicately strung between succulence and dryness. Drink now through 2012 or ’14. Production was 210 cases. Excellent. About $40.
One of the side-dishes we served with Thanksgiving dinner was roasted potatoes with figs and thyme. Before roasting, the figs, of the Black Mission variety, steeped for half a day in strong black tea. Yes, these were dense, earthy little flavor bombs. So anyway, about a dozen of these incredible macerated and roasted figs were left over and I said, “It would be interesting to try these on vanilla ice cream.” So we did that, and I want to tell you, readers, that the combination of the figs, Platonically, almost brutally sweet and savory at the same time, and the ice cream made my synapses forget what they were supposed to be doing so that they began firing randomly in astonishment and sent deep shivers amongst my timbers.
With this treat I opened a bottle of La Tunella Verduzzo Friulano 2006, a dessert wine from the far northeastern Italian appellation of Colli Orientali del Friuli. This wine is made from verduzzo friulano grapes that are allowed to hang on the vines and turn to intense, concentrated raisins. The wine is fermented in French oak and aged for 10 months. The color is deep gold-amber. The wine displays an amazing panoply of dried spices, with orange zest, baked honey and super-ripe peach and apricot; it’s dense, weighty and viscous, sweet yet savory with hints of roasted peach, mango and (yes) fig, kept within sane limits by taut, vibrant acid. The finish is actually dry and profoundly spicy. Wow! This should last and develop, well-stored, through 2014 or ’16. Excellent. About $23 for a 500-milliliter bottle.
Imported by Quintessential, Napa Ca.